To explore the experiences and perceptions of providing and receiving naturopathic care within the Aboriginal community served by community health centre Anishnawbe Health Toronto.
This is an exploratory study using a descriptive qualitative approach to enable better understanding of the care provided to Aboriginal patients by naturopathic interns and clinician supervisors at Anishnawbe Health Toronto (AHT). We conducted semi-structured interviews with 3 naturopathic supervisors, 7 naturopathic interns, and 7 Aboriginal patients to gain an in-depth understanding of participants' experiences and perceptions of naturopathic medicine at AHT. We also conducted 3 confirmatory interviews with Naturopathic Doctors practicing in other Aboriginal communities.
Naturopathic medicine is perceived to fit with health care philosophies in Aboriginal communities, as it emphasizes spiritual, mental and emotional aspects of health. Specifically, strengths of naturopathic medicine within the Aboriginal community relate to the philosophical suitability of naturopathic medicine, the ability to meet a wide range of health needs, the lack of power imbalance in the patient-practitioner relationship, and the cultural sensitivity of the practitioners. While AHT is highly regarded by patients and practitioners, certain limitations at the local setting regarding privacy and inter-professional communication were evident. Further, to facilitate trust, naturopathic interns require enhanced training in specific health issues that face the Aboriginal population to allow them to better engage with the culture and practices of the Aboriginal community.
The naturopathic clinic at AHT contributes to positive patient outcomes and satisfaction and helps address unmet health needs in this population. Naturopathic medicine may be well suited to address Aboriginal health care needs through its holistic and respectful approach to care and a foundation of traditional knowledge and research evidence for treatment of a person's mind, body and spirit.